The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that his party envisions free and quality health services at the public health facilities instead of filling coffers of the private sector through insurance programmes.
Speaking at the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS) in Khairpur district on Friday, he reiterated his disapproval of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's health card initiative.
"The way they are operating the health card system is wrong," he argued. He noted that under the program Rs500,000 to Rs600,000 subsidy is paid in the name of a patient to a private healthcare facility. He recalled that the PPP's 2008-13 government had initiated this program as a part of Benazir Income Support Program.
However, he added, that project only targeted the poorest people living in the backward areas with no quality healthcare providers. The ongoing project, he believed, is wasting the public funds, which can better be spent on the government health facilities, while enriching the private sector.
"We think only the poor people should have been given the card and the remaining funds should have been channeled towards the public hospitals like we did for example in GIMS." He praised the institute, particularly its head Dr Rahim Bux Bhatti, for offering liver, kidney, bone marrow and other transplants besides the cancer treatment in a small rural town of Sindh.
Quoting the statistics shared by the institute, he told that 550 liver, 140 kidney, 112 Cornea and 11 bone marrow transplants have been done at the facility in last few years. The healthcare provider, he added, was not only serving the people of Sindh but the entire country.
Bilawal said he was surprised to know that 48% of the patients who received free liver transplant, which costs between Rs4 million to Rs5 million each, belonged to other provinces. As many as 164 patients from Punjab, 80 from Balochistan, 14 from KPK and seven from Islamabad besides 284 for from Sindh underwent free transplant surgeries at GIMS.
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"I have been requested to declare GIMS as a medical city but I will rather declare it as the medical capital of Pakistan." Quoting Dr Bhatti, Bilawal apprised that a range of advanced healthcare facilities are going to be added at GIMS in the next one year.
He expressed the wish of opening satellite centers of the institute in other cities of the province on the pattern of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD). Bilawal challenged the federal, Punjab and KPK governments to show any health facility which is based at a tehsil level in Lahore or Peshawar.
Speaking earlier, chief minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah said around eight to ten years ago no one could even have imagined that a remote rural town of Khairpur would offer such advanced health facilities to whole country. He praised the team of Dr Bhatti for establishing the institute in a least possible time.
The CM underscored the need of improving the public sector hospitals so that the patients who lack the financial resources are not deprived of the necessary healthcare.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2022.
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